Will other League One coaches step up after Brentford sign Smith?
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | December 1, 2015
Dean Smith was the fourth-longest serving manager in English league football at Walsall before Brentford came in for his services.
Having decided not to renew Mark Warburton’s contract at Griffin Park at the end of last season still looks like a mistake.
The Bees disastrously then went down the foreign coach route by appointing Marinus Dijkhuizen, who left the Bees after just nine games. Lee Carsley was a reluctant but successful caretaker and it’s now another young, English boss given the reins in west London.
Smith, 44, played for Brentford’s London rivals Leyton Orient for six years before, later returning to the capital as a youth coach and assistant manager before serving similar backroom roles with the Saddlers.
Saddling the Bees to sting?
Initially made caretaker boss of Walsall in January 2011, his reign in the West Midlands finishes a month short of five years. That spell saw him steer the Saddlers away from League One relegation and build on three mid-table finishes.
Leaving the Greater Birmingham boys fourth in the third tier with a game in hand and three off stop spot, Smith now tests his coaching credentials at Championship level.
The Bees are now three points off the play-offs, and 5/1 with Coral for a top six finish, after drawing at rock bottom Bolton Wanderers with Smith given a watching brief on his new team from the stands. It is an attractive proposition that has lured him from the Saddlers.
Hasselbaink hot property too
What Smith’s appointment also poses is will other League One managers follow suit and join him in stepping up a division? Former Netherlands international striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has been consistently linked with leaving Burton Albion for other London vacancies at Fulham and QPR.
Under ex-Chelsea and Charlton Athletic frontman Hasselbaink, the Brewers have gone from League Two nearly men to Championship promotion contenders.
Both prospective employers at Craven Cottage and Loftus Road have certainly been biding their time as they seek permanent successors to Kit Symons and Chris Ramsey. Hasselbaink’s stock is very high, because Burton like Walsall have punched above their weight with modest budgets.
Smith should be Bradshaw about bringing Walsall winners with him
Having sold Andre Gray for big money this summer, it wouldn’t be surprising if a winter window move were sanctioned by Smith to sign Saddlers striker Tom Bradshaw to lead the Brentford attack.
Given a maiden call-up to Wales’ senior squad for the end of year international friendlies, if Bradshaw could show Chris Coleman he could cut it in the Championship, then he might just make the Dragons’ squad for Euro 2016.
St Kitts and Nevis attacking midfielder Romaine Sawyers, meanwhile, is another Walsall wonder that it could be worth cashing in on. His goals and assists have supplemented Bradshaw’s scoring exploits nicely.
The Saddlers’ reluctance to lose Smith was clear in the club statement release following his move to the Bees, but at their level every player has their price. What price on a Brentford promotion? It’s 12/1 they grace the Premier League next season.
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